Cutting back on Hershey’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Oreos may be one of the suckiest parts of dieting. But eliminating sweets doesn’t mean you have to go without anything sweet-tasting. Seriously! Just eat fruit, especially picks that have been deemed the best for weight loss.
The natural sugars in fruit can be used to quell a sweet tooth, says registered dietician Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting, and author of Read It Before You Eat It. “Beyond just being a healthier hit of sweetness, fruits are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, fiber and water—which candy and candy-sugar doesn’t have,” she says.
The fiber in fruit is especially clutch for those working towards weight loss. “Fiber is the nutrient that helps keep you full, so when you eat a fiber-forward diet, you decrease your likelihood of snacking between meals,” says Taub-Dix.
Fruit is also lower in calories than other, less healthy foods, she says. Subbing a refined-carb snack with a piece of fruit easily slashes one to two hundred calories from your daily intake.
With that in mind, let us introduce you to the best fruits of blasting flab. The 9 fruits listed below all have two things in common: They are loaded with fiber and flavor.
1. Ruby Red Grapefruit
There’s a popular, but misleading, food rumor that eating grapefruit burns more calories than it contains. “It’s a myth that grapefruit is a negative calorie food; No food is,” says Taub-Dix. “But, high-in-fiber, low-in-calories, and flavorful still makes it a good addition to a weight loss plan,” Taub-Dix says.
While she promises there’s no wrong time to scarf down the ruby fruit, according to one study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, eating half a grapefruit before meals may be most beneficial for weight and fat loss. For the six-week study, researchers found that participants who ate grapefruit before every meal saw their belly’s shrink by up to an inch. Why not consider having half of a grapefruit before your morning oatmeal, and slicing a few segments to a starter salad?
2. Tart Cherries
Cherries may taste best on top of an ice cream sundae. But if you’re trying to lose weight the oh-so-tiny and sweet fruit is not only pretty damn good on its own, but may also support fat loss. In one 12-week study by the University of Michigan, rats who were fed antioxidant-rich tart cherries showed a 9-percent greater belly fat reduction compared to rats who didn’t chow on cherries.
Are humans rats? No. But, the study also found cherry consumption had the profound ability to reduce inflammation, which the researchers noted supports the idea that eating inflammation-fighting foods (like cherries) is beneficial for weight loss. So, nosh on!
Think of apples as the powerhouse weight loss food. “With 4 grams of fiber per serving and only 95 calories, apples are one of the best sources of fiber on the planet,” says Taub-Dix. Apples are also exceptionally crunchy, which means they take longer to consume (all that chewing!) and more satisfying to eat compared to other snacks.
If you don’t favor one apple type over others, opt for Pink Lady variety. Research conducted at the University of Western Australia found that the Pink Lady apples had the highest levels of flavonoids, antioxidants which are thought to keep the body in tip-top condition. The more you know!
Like apples, pears are full of fiber—just one pear contains about 6 grams. “Every time you eat a pear you’re working your way toward your daily recommended fiber intake,” says Taub-Dix. (FYI: For women, that’s 25 grams a day, and for men, it’s 30). Plus, pears contain something called pectin which, she says, “nourishes gut bacteria, improves digestion, supports bowel health, and has been linked to improved weight loss.” Not too shabby, eh?
Time to see blueberries as your weight-loss BFF. Generally speaking, berries are packed with something called polyphenols, which are powerful natural chemicals that can help you lose weight and even stop fat from forming. But research on rats from University of Michigan suggests that blueberries have the added benefit of reducing belly fat. In the 90-day study, rats who had blueberry powder mixed into their meals had less abdominal fat at the end of the 90-day study than rats on a berry-free diet.
Taub-Dix suggests replacing snacks like popcorn and M&M’s with blueberries, which are similar in shape and (almost) as sweet. “And, you can eat quite a few (18) in a single serving,” she says.
Strawberries rank higher on your favorite berry list? That’s fine! “Strawberries are full of fiber, water, and nutrients, and research has linked strawberry consumption to improved heart health and improved insulin sensitivity,” says Taub-Dix. She recommends nuking them in the microwave and topping with a dollop of Greek Yogurt for dessert, pairing with cottage cheese, or adding them to a salad.
Watermelon sometimes gets a bad rap for being high in sugar—after all, one slice has 18 grams of sugar. But, compared to another summer snack (ahem, like ice cream), watermelon is way more nutritious. Plus, science says it’s one of the best fruits for fat and weight loss!
In one study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers fed one group of mice watermelon extract for 12 weeks, and another group of mice none. At the end of the study, those that had been fed watermelon extract, had lost more body weight and fat mass compared to the non-watermelon eating group. While more research on humans is needed to confirm watermelons weight loss benefits, Taub-Dix gives watermelon the green light. “You probably don’t want to eat the whole melon, but it’s totally fine to eat when you’re trying to lose weight.”
Peaches make your hands sticky, but they’ll help extra weight slide right off. A study at Texas AgriLife Research found that peaches (and plums and nectarines!) may help ward off risk for obesity-related diseases. “[The study] indicates that compounds present in these fruits have anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties,” Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, AgriLife Research food scientist explained in a press release. “[Consuming peaches] may reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL which is associated with cardiovascular disease,” he said.
Best part: Fruits with pits are among the lowest in fruit sugar. Meaning, peaches are sweet without being wildly high in sugar. A perk for folks on low-sugar dietsand with diabetes.
Soda lovers, it’s time to try the water-flavoring trick you’ve already heard: throw some lemon into your water bottle. “Drinking lemon water in place of fruit juices or soda can absolutely support your weight loss efforts,” says Taub-Dix. Every time you have a glass of lemon water instead of a can of Coke or glass of OJ, you save yourself 100 to 200 calories and at least 20 grams of sugar.